Ross Gittins at the SMH discusses the economic ramifications of the Coal Coalition’s ideological recalcitrance regarding climate change and inspires me just a little. Read the whole thing, then come back.
Sometimes I fear Australia has decided to go backwards just as the rest of the world has decided to go forwards. Take climate change. If the repeal of the carbon tax gets through the Senate this week there will probably be celebrations in the boardrooms of all the business groups that lobbied so hard for its removal.
But if they imagine the lifting of this supposedly great burden on them and the economy will mean it’s back to business as usual, they’ll soon find out differently.
Fine, anthropogenic climate change is bunk – granted solely for the sake of argument. However, there is a stark and obvious economic reality that you can’t be “skeptical” about: the world economy is shifting towards renewable energy. Rapidly.
Sunlight and wind don’t need to be found, extracted, refined, transported or burned. They also don’t produce toxic emissions, byproducts or waste and aren’t beholden to unpredictable fluctuations in global resource prices – fluctuations which can be caused by anything from localised civil unrest or industrial action to extreme seismological or meteorological events. The infrastructure used to deliver wind and solar energy is becoming cheaper and more efficient. Major economic powers are already committed to significant renewable energy R&D and implementation as well as significant reductions in carbon-heavy energy production. The developing world will soon be able to provide efficient, cheap, clean energy to its citizens in places it was not economically possible to do so before.
All this is of course known to the Coalition and its donors, enablers and ideas-men. The damage they risk doing to our economy (not to mention our environment, regardless of climate change) by bloody-mindedly attempting to delay the inevitable reality of owning a bunch of black shite nobody wants anymore – all the while trying to stymie the competition via carbon-coddling legislation and corporate welfare – is the price we will all pay for their own shortsightedness and obstinate denial. There’s been more than enough time for Australia’s heiresses and billionaires to understand reality and invest (and divest) accordingly; if this government has a lick of common sense it will be wondering if it wants its legacy to boil down to making all of us pay for a stark lack of vision, both on its part and on the part of those who dictate its policy.